BC Hydro customers across the province have lost a total of almost $45,000 to scammers in 2018.
According to a release from the utility company, fraudsters have been 50% more successful in conning people out of their money by impersonating BC Hydro employees.
Over 2,000 customers were contacted by fraudsters in 2018, with Nanaimo, Vancouver, Surrey, Vernon, Burnaby, and Richmond being the most commonly targeted communities.
The most common version of this scam involves contacting customers by phone, email, or text, and threatening to disconnect their Hydro services if a payment is not made.
The victim is then asked to purchase a pre-paid credit card, or deposit money into a bitcoin ATM, and send the payment to the scammer(s).
The company also notes that a large portion of attempted and successful scams go unreported.
To avoid falling victim to these scammers, remember:
- BC Hydro does not collect credit card or bank account information over the phone, by email, or text, and it does not accept payment from pre-paid cash or credit cards, or bitcoin;
- If an account is in arrears, BC Hydro will send several notices by mail and use an auto dialer to remind customers to make a payment. Customers can also check their account status at any time at bchydro.com;
- If a customer doubts the authenticity of the call, they should hang up and call BC Hydro immediately at 1 800 BCHYDRO.
Victims of BC Hydro impersonators are asked to also contact their local police detachment and/or report the attempt to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1 888 495 8501.